Emily Mortimer is on time, even in the morning, and has done her own hair and makeup. Though most working moms can make that statement, the star of HBO’s “The Newsroom” is in an industry where many leading women have an entourage and a somewhat elastic sense of time.
Playing the headstrong Mackenzie McHale, executive producer of a news broadcast, Mortimer draws from a pal who is a news producer for the BBC.
“I have never been in control of anything in my life,” Mortimer says. “I don’t think of myself as this corporate woman, but my friend Shami (journalist Shaminder Nahal) doesn’t either. She cares so much.”
Mortimer infuses her character with the passion of righting injustices and carrying the torch for journalism that is ethical and important. “She is fearless with very little regard for the consequences,” Mortimer says.
Mortimer has her own brand of fearlessness. She pretty much knew she wanted to act since she was a girl but never thought it would actually come to pass.
“I always sort of performed,” she says. “I did personal adverts for washing powder for my parents. I would sort of lie in the sun with a Chinese parasol and a wig. I was a painfully shy child and very fearful in lots of ways.
“What I have in common with this character is putting myself in situations where I absolutely have to perform,” Mortimer continues. “My instinct is to hide from everything. I didn’t think I would ever do it. An agent came to see me in a play I was in at Oxford.”
Then she studied English literature and Russian and launched her career. Now Mortimer hopes to attract viewers to “The Newsroom” because, she says, “it is funny, exciting, relevant and heartbreaking — in an old-fashioned sense.”